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Calls of distress

Over three hours on Jan. 17, 2008, five calls were made to 911 related to the abduction of Denise Lee. One of these, made by the victim herself, has not been released to the public.
/ Source: Dateline NBC

Denise Lee was abducted from her home in North Port, Fla., on Jan. 17, 2008. Between 3:29 and 6:30 p.m., five 911 calls related to her disappearance were placed by five different people – including one by the victim itself.

3:29 p.m.
The first 911 call related to Denise Lee's disappearance that day was place by Nate Lee, who called 911 to report his wife missing. In his call, made after he came home from work, Nate Lee says “My kids were in the house and I don't know where she is.”

There was no sign of theft or forced entry, but Denise's keys were left on the couch as if she left unexpectedly.

6:14 p.m.
The second call made to 911 on the day of Denise Lee's disappearance was from the victim herself. She managed to sneak her abductor's cell phone away from him while he was driving.

After calling 911, she left an open line so emergency operators could hear their conversation.

The call has not been made public, but Denise's father says the first thing heard on the call is her screaming. She managed to drop clues into her conversation with her kidnapper -- such as the model of the car they're riding in and a description of her abductor.

According to police records, the phone call ends after a man asks where his cell phone is and Denise says “I don't know.”

6:23 p.m.
Four hours after a green Camaro was spotted in Denise Lee's driveway, and minutes after Denise herself called 911, a woman made an emergency call to report a disturbing story.

Sabrina Muxlow, the daughter of the suspected kidnapper's cousin, called 911 at 6:23 p.m. She told operators that Michael King had a girl tied up in his car.

“He came over to my dad's house,” she says in the call, and he “borrowed a shovel, a gas tank, and something else.”

Denise Lee tried to escape, Muxlow tells the operator, but “my dad's cousin went and put her back in the car.”

She told 911 operators that her father wanted to remain anonymous.

6:30 p.m.
While driving on US-41, Jane Kowalski made a cell phone call to 911 to report an emergency. “I was at a stoplight and a man pulled up next to me and there was a child screaming in the car,” she says on the call, placed at 6:30 p.m.

With the sun going down, Kowalski identifies the car as a Camaro, but mistakes its color for blue or black, and misidentifies the person screaming in the car as a child. She thought she was witnessing a child abduction.

In chilling descriptions, Kowalski says she could hear “terrifying screaming” and that she's “never heard anything like that.”

After she made eye contact with the driver, she says “a hand came up and started banging on the passenger window.”

She offers to follow the Camaro, but it turned before the operator could respond.

Because the call was made just beyond the Sarasota County line, it was routed to a different 911 call center, in Charlotte County.

6:50 p.m.
The final 911 call related to Denise Lee's disappearance was made by suspect Michael King's cousin, Harold Muxlow, who tried to remain anonymous by using a pay phone.

In the 6:50 p.m. call, Muxlow says he's “not sure exactly what the emergency is,” but that somebody had been taken. “It didn't look like she wanted to be there,” he tells the operator.

Muxlow told police that his cousin borrowed a gas can, a shovel, and a flashlight, saying it was for a lawn mower that had broken down and was stuck in a ditch.

After Michael King grabbed these items from his tool shed, Muxlow said he watched a woman struggle with King for about 30 seconds, at one point getting outside the car and yelling “Call the cops.”

According to Muxlow, King pushed her back in the car, said “Don't worry about it,” and took off.